A simple screening program for cervical cancer using vinegar and visual exams helped reduce deaths caused by the cancer by 31 percent in a group of 150,000 poor women in India, researchers reported.
If implemented broadly, the screening program could lead to the prevention of 22,000 deaths from cervical cancer in India, and 72,000 deaths in the developing world each year, the team reported.
“We had a 31 percent reduction in cervical cancer death. That was very significant,” said Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, who led the study.
The study involved women selected from 20 slums in the city of Mumbai. For the screening program, the team trained young women with at least a 10th grade education on how to apply the vinegar solution and evaluate the results.
As a result of these efforts, “The screening participation rates were 89 percent, huge for a country like India,” Shastri said.
The study involved women aged 35 to 64 with no previous history of cancer. They were randomly assigned to either an education program to teach women how to recognize symptoms of cervical cancer or a screening program in which a vinegar solution is applied to the cervix, which can make pre-cancerous tissues turn white and visible to the naked eye after only a minute.